Ulcerative colitis is known to be more common and severe in non-smokers than in smokers.
|Quitting smoking increases the risk of active disease.
|American Journal of Gastroenterology|
However, the progress of the disease in patients that give up smoking has not previously been established.
Dr Laurent Beaugerie and colleagues in Paris, France, investigated the impact of cessation of smoking in 32 patients with ulcerative colitis.
The severity of the disease was judged by the occurrence of flare-ups and the need for steroids, immunosuppressive drugs, or colectomy to control the disease.
The course of the disease in the 32 quitting smokers was compared with 32 continuing smokers with ulcerative colitis, and 32 non-smokers with the disease.
After a mean follow-up of 7 years, the severity of ulcerative colitis increased in smokers after they quit.
Giving up smoking significantly increased the likelihood of active disease and the need for hospitalization for ulcerative colitis. Ex-smokers were also more likely to need steroids or azathioprine.
The need for immunosuppressive therapy was greater in non-smokers and ex-smokers than in continuing smokers. The risk of colectomy was similar in all three groups.
Dr Beaugerie concludes, "In smokers with UC who stop smoking there is an increase in the disease activity, and the need for hospital admission and major medical therapy."